Like a jigsaw puzzle, the structure of a cast can conform to rigid patterns. In the first post this was made evident with the brains/brawns dynamic shown by Ichigo-Uryuu and Mugen-Jin. In other action shows, however, the brains/brawn duo isn’t a necessity, and a binary will materialize in a different form, like Goku-Vegeta, who make up an interesting social class binary that is constantly emphasized by a sort of racial liberalism/conservatism (Goku saves humanity while ignoring his Saiyan ancestry while Vegeta always fights for Saiyan pride). In this installment, I’m basically going to look briefly at instances where the drive of a show is produced by the conflict of two lead characters. These two leads constitute the “lead paradigm” which must usually fit a binary, hence lead paradigm binary.
The lead paradigm binary stretches far. Yuji-Marlene, Lelouch-Suzaku, Chikane-Himeko, Haruka-Hayase, Fujiki-Irako, Yang-Reinhard, Kira-L, and so forth. In these instances, the progression of the show is fueled mainly by the ideological conflict generated by the lead paradigm binary, with “third party” instigators contributing to other events with which the lead binary must negotiate. Sometimes that ideological conflict is turned on its head or even abolished in a series of massive plot twists that completely reconfigure the ideological motivations of the lead characters or show in general. Geass is interesting in this respect because both Lelouch and Suzaku wanted to change society, the former by revolution and the latter by reformation “within the system”. Then Suzaku went crazy and so he ended up dissenting against the military and political system he originally fought for in favor of Lelouch’s “everyone hate me now” strategy.
While the lead paradigm binary usually takes place between people, other cases that aren’t restricted to lead characters involve split or dual personality or even schizophrenia. These cinematic devices almost always polarize opposing mentalities: Negishi-Krauser, Allelujah-Hallelujah, Marie-Soma, possibly Takumi-Shogun or whatever the mystery turns out to be, Afro-Ninja (imaginary friends count too). Because we love coining jargon all the time, the instance of schizophrenia or related conditions could be labeled intra-paradigmatic since they occur within the same character, or paradigm, within the cast structure.
As per the concepts developed in parts I-III, lead binaries not restricted to one character (inter-paradigmatic!) can be expressed in terms of appearance, personality or, most importantly, ideology:
Yes, those pictures are absolutely appropriate and relevant
Light-dark hair is the salient visual clue here; hair is usually a definitive visual characteristic that is the only way of distinguishing between characters (ie. Key adaptation girls). However, I don’t think that their placement in the anime is dependant entirely upon their appearance – it’s more like an ideological paradigm is required for the drive of the show to function, and so appearance is icing on the cake. It’s largely superfluous, but helps to emphasize, by what you can see, precisely those things you cannot see. This is also buttressed by Chikane’s penitence. The ideology she represents inverts itself yet her appearance remains the same. So in these two cases Chikane ideologically represents adultery (sexual perversion) and Himeko chastity, while Haruka represents romantic loyalty and Hayase treachery (another theme is shy vs. outgoing, respectively).
Yang = democracy, Reinhard = autocracy. Appearance in LoGH is interesting because Reinhard is always referred to as “the blonde brat”, more so because the Empire is modeled after, probably, 19th century Prussia. It only makes sense that Prussians look Caucasian. The Free Planets Alliance is more racially diverse. Basically, while LoGH falls into the light/dark hair binary, it is much more “natural” or demanded of by the setting of the anime, whereas the appearance of the girls in KGNE and Kannazuki no Miko have no necessitated connection to their environment other than to emphasize and signify disparate ideology.
hair color predominantly in correlation with personality
ETERNAL gets at this nicely:
This is where I believe conflict lies at the heart of our enjoyment – because conflict, in a love story, is the embodiment of the feelings that the characters share for one another, and these are the feelings that the viewer draws from the story.
She also points out the dissonance between Yuki and Kyo:
Yuki, calm and confident but awkward on the inside; and Kyo, hotheaded and practically tsundere when it comes to his true feelings.
By now it should be evident that tension generates events which drive the show – this is largely if not entirely manifested in the characters.
ETERNAL also says something thought-provoking:
This is where, I believe, conflict comes into play in our rabu-rabu goodness. What would happen if a writer wrote an entire story about the everyday life of a happy couple? It might be interesting, if the writer were a genius, but chances are the plan would backfire and it would be horribly boring…
This is true as well. While her analysis is limited to heterosexual love (I guess that’s what rabu-rabu is), conflict is apparent in homoplatonic sibling love (Sae-Chika), heteroplatonic sibling love (Lelouch-Nunnally), homoplatonic GAR love (Mittermeyer-Reuenthal), hetero-incestuous love (Jun-Noe), homo-incestuous love (uhh, hentai?), lesbianism (Shiznat), and any other funny terminology you can think of.
One thing we haven’t seen yet is the location of conflict. You can have, as was previously stated, conflict within the lead paradigm which is between two lead characters (Renton-Eureka). This type of conflict works from the inside out. You can also have extra-paradigmatic conflict, conflict that comes from a third party with which the lead binary must deal with in unison, thus strengthening their bond Renton and Eureka embody this type of conflict towards the end of the anime when they are totally in sync with one another; and this further emphasizes how conflict itself is needed to propel the lead binary – it just depends on the status of the lead binary (is it in tension or harmony?) to “elicit” conflict from a third party (Anemone, the military).
But what happens when there is no conflict involving the lead binary? You could say you end up with slice-of-life, but still, there is conflict in that genre (Hidamari Sketch, Minami-ke, Konata-Kagami). Really, I think that an anime with no conflict reaches a point of stasis. Even an esoteric show like The Diary of Tortov Roddle is probably riddled (sorry, had to) with conflict, albeit in a very confusing and roundabout way. Moreover, rarely is a slice-of-life dominated by a lead binary; but, now that we’ve covered the function of the lead paradigm binary, the next post will deal with larger cast structures and its role in relation to conflict and tension. For now, I leave you with A Graph with which to ponder…
 LoGH is a supremely satisfying case because there is little direct contact between Yang and Reinhard. They do contest ideologically as well as indirectly through the long chain of command.
 Owen gave me that idea.
 There is extra-paradigmatic conflict is dealt with by the lead binary when they themselves are in conflict, Goku-Vegeta is a good example (they often take turns fighting).